Democrats will now have even more time to negotiate their big-spending agenda, and it does not appear that McConnell was willing to use the threat of a shutdown to extract any concessions in the process. Some GOP senators had pledged to block any deal if federal funding for vaccine mandates was not barred in it.
Schumer took to the Senate floor today to announce the agreement. The details are sparse, aside from the fact that it includes $7 billion in new spending for Afghan refugees.
.@SenSchumer: "I reached an agreement with Leader McConnell […] on a continuing resolution that will keep the federal government funded through mid-February of next year. This is a good compromise that allows an appropriate amount of time […] to finish negotiations." pic.twitter.com/hF89Kr2wYY
— The Hill (@thehill) December 2, 2021
The big question here is whether this continuing resolution includes a debt ceiling increase like the last one did. That raised the debt ceiling by $480 billion, and McConnell pledged at the time that he would not make such a deal again. The idea was that it would force Democrats to use one of their limited reconciliation shots to keep the government from defaulting. Did McConnell fold here on that point? I can’t say for sure — until we get the final word on what is and isn’t included.
Of note is that if McConnell did end up agreeing to raise the debt ceiling, I will owe you guys an apology. I had previously written an article suggesting he would not do that. If he goes back on his word and doesn’t force Democrats to use reconciliation, that will be a huge betrayal by the Minority Leader and a swing and miss by me.
Still, even if the debt ceiling isn’t raised in this deal (that deadline is December 15th), it is disappointing to see McConnell punt on at least getting something in return for handing Democrats another lifeline. And no, funding for Afghan refugees, most of whom haven’t even been properly vetted, is not a win for Republicans. That was actually something the White House wanted. Mike Lee was one of the senators asking McConnell to demand no funding for vaccine mandates in exchange for any deal.
And while I’m sure some people will assure me this is 4-D chess by McConnell, I’m not buying it until I get more evidence that’s the case. If this agreement was made because he wants to keep Joe Manchin in line, that’s still not a good excuse. It was several months ago, but it’s not anymore. At some point, Manchin can’t keep stringing Republicans along and he needs to own whatever decision he makes on the “Build Back Better” bill. Let West Virginia take care of him if he doesn’t do the right thing.
Unfortunately, McConnell has backed himself into a corner by insisting in the past that he will not shut the government. Doing so has left him no leverage, and why even fear a shutdown? When it happens, all we do is go about our lives while people that shouldn’t have government jobs in the first place sit at home for a few weeks. It plays into the hands of the left to pretend a shutdown is a catastrophic event — because it’s clearly not. Remember the last time a shutdown was spun as certain doom for Republicans in 2013? The GOP went on to win the Senate in 2014 and won the entire 2016 election, as well.
In short, stop being scared to play hardball. If you are going to make a deal, get something for your trouble. You have to eventually dare the other side to not blink. Otherwise, what’s the point?